Black on white

CONICET technician tells the story behind a photograph he took during his trip to Antarctic. The image now competes for a prestigious international prize.

Podestá's back and white picture, which was selected for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition of the Natural History Museum of London.

Darío Podestá is an associate professional at the Patagonian National Research Center (CENPAT-CONICET). He was invited to travel to Antarctic in 2012 to participate in a project aimed at studying the migratory cycle and reproductive biology of skuas, large marine birds.

“Mi job was to assist in collecting data and monitoring breeding couples we detected in the work area, Carlini scientific base”, Podestá describes.

Nevertheless, the magnificent landscape, the colours and its contrasts aroused the technician’s early interest: photography. The white part that seemed to cover everything and the small coloured stains of the coat and plumage animals showed when moving made countless image sequences that were worth being taken.

In ‘A Treatise on Painting’ Leonardo Da Vinci explains: “If you mean that the proximity of one colour should give beauty to another that is next to it, observe the rays of the sun in the composition of the rainbow, the colours of which are generated by the falling rain, when each drop in its descent takes every colour of the bow. Now, if you mean to have excellent darkness, place it next to great whiteness so as to obtain complete darkness.”

Podestá comments: “penguins would approach the base every day. I was amazed to notice that the white part of the animal merged with the light of the surrounding area and highlighted the black colour of the head, wings and back. With that sharp contrast, it was hard to define technically the correct exposure. By taking dark details, the light ones got overexposed, so the challenge was to overcome that difficulty. I thought it was interesting to play with the different compositions and show it from a more abstract point of view.”

The technician visited and explored fascinating places. He felt cold and lived surrounded by animals. However, what impressed him most was to find a site that was unlike any other place in the world.


In the competition

Darío Podestá is the second Argentine nominee to reach the final stages of the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition of the Natural History Museum of London. Podestá’s picture was chosen for the People´s Choice Award category

That category has 25 photos of which only five will be chosen through public vote. Click here to vote for this image 

“Photography is a powerful tool to promote science. It shocks and attracts people’s attention. For this reason, I included in the caption information about the place where the photo was taken so as to let people know about the effort the Argentine State makes in terms of sovereignty in order to work in Antarctic”, Podestá affirms.

By Alejandro Cannizzaro. CENPAT-CONICET.

Translated version by Cintia B. González